Tips for Planning a Campervan Trip in Japan

Exploring Japan by campervan is an adventure like no other. With its picturesque landscapes, diverse culture, and well-maintained roads, Japan offers a unique and convenient way to travel. Whether you’re a seasoned road tripper or a first-time camper, planning a campervan trip in Japan requires some preparation to make the most of your journey. Here are some essential tips to ensure a smooth and memorable campervan adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Choose the Right Campervan

Selecting the right campervan is crucial for a comfortable trip. When looking for a campervan rental in Japan, consider factors such as the size of the vehicle, the number of passengers, and the amenities you need.

For most travelers, the best mid size camper van strikes a balance between space and maneuverability. These vans are spacious enough to accommodate a small family or group of friends but compact enough to navigate Japan’s narrow roads and urban areas. Look for models with features like a built-in kitchen, comfortable sleeping arrangements, and ample storage.

Plan Your Route

Japan is a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. Planning your route in advance can help you maximize your time and experience the best the country has to offer. Here are a few must-visit destinations for your campervan trip:


Start your journey in Tokyo, the bustling capital city. While driving in Tokyo can be challenging due to traffic, it’s worth spending a few days exploring the city before heading out. Visit iconic sites like the Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo Tower, and the serene Meiji Shrine.

Mount Fuji

No trip to Japan is complete without seeing Mount Fuji. There are several campgrounds around the mountain where you can park your campervan and enjoy the stunning views. Consider visiting the Fuji Five Lakes region for beautiful scenery and outdoor activities.


Drive to Kyoto, known for its historic temples, traditional tea houses, and beautiful gardens. The city offers several RV-friendly parks where you can stay overnight. Be sure to visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine and the bamboo groves of Arashiyama.


If you’re traveling in the summer, head north to Hokkaido. This island is famous for its natural beauty, including hot springs, national parks, and flower fields. The roads in Hokkaido are less crowded, making it a perfect destination for a relaxed campervan trip.

Understand the Rules of the Road

Driving in Japan has its own set of rules and regulations. Familiarize yourself with these to ensure a safe and hassle-free trip:

International Driving Permit

You’ll need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in Japan. Make sure to obtain this before your trip as it is required to rent a campervan.

Left-Hand Driving

Japan drives on the left side of the road. If you’re not used to this, take some time to practice and get comfortable with the change.

Speed Limits

Speed limits in Japan vary depending on the type of road. Generally, the speed limit is 60 km/h (37 mph) on regular roads and 100 km/h (62 mph) on expressways. Pay attention to road signs and adhere to the limits to avoid fines.

Campgrounds and Overnight Parking

Finding the right place to park your campervan overnight is essential. Japan has a variety of options, from designated campgrounds to roadside rest areas:


Japan has many well-equipped campgrounds that offer facilities like showers, toilets, and even kitchens. These campgrounds provide a safe and comfortable place to stay overnight.


Michi-no-Eki, or roadside stations, are rest areas along highways that provide parking, restrooms, and often local produce and souvenirs. These are great places to park for a night or two.

Service Areas

Service areas on expressways are equipped with restrooms, restaurants, and sometimes even hot springs. These can be convenient for short stops or overnight stays.

Stock Up on Supplies

Before hitting the road, stock up on essential supplies. Here’s a checklist to get you started:

Food and Water

Purchase enough food and water for the duration of your trip, especially if you plan to visit remote areas. Many supermarkets and convenience stores in Japan offer a variety of fresh and packaged foods.

Cooking Equipment

If your campervan doesn’t come with a kitchen, bring portable cooking equipment such as a camping stove, pots, and utensils. This will allow you to prepare meals on the go.


Ensure you have comfortable bedding for a good night’s sleep. This includes sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets.

Embrace the Local Culture

One of the joys of traveling in Japan is experiencing its rich culture and traditions. Here are a few tips to help you blend in and make the most of your trip:

Learn Basic Japanese Phrases

While many Japanese people speak some English, learning a few basic Japanese phrases can go a long way. Simple greetings and phrases like “hello” (konnichiwa), “thank you” (arigatou), and “excuse me” (sumimasen) can enhance your interactions with locals.

Respect Local Etiquette

Japanese culture places a strong emphasis on respect and politeness. Always remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or certain public places, and be mindful of noise levels in public areas.

Enjoy Local Cuisine

Take the opportunity to try local dishes such as sushi, ramen, and tempura. Visiting local markets and trying street food can be a highlight of your trip.

End Note

Planning a campervan trip in Japan can be an exciting and rewarding experience. By choosing the right vehicle, planning your route, understanding the local driving rules, and embracing the culture, you’ll be well-prepared for an unforgettable adventure. These tips will help you make the most of your journey. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and explore the beautiful landscapes and vibrant culture of Japan from the comfort of your campervan. Also, if you’re looking for the best mid size camper van, Samurai Campers has you covered!

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